Having a frame custom-built to your own size and specifications is the ultimate way of getting a bike customised just for you. With a frame that’s built to your size, it fits perfectly, and you have freedom to choose how the frame looks and rides.
For over ten years, I have been building all kinds of frames – road bikes, mountain bikes, touring bikes, tandems, folding bikes, recumbents and pretty much anything else. The process usually starts with sizing the frame – either by taking some measurements from you, or by measuring an existing bike that already fits you well. These measurements then go into some fancy software to work out dimensions and angles:
The software I use is called BikeCAD – there’s a simple free version on the website to play with if you’re interested: http://www.bikecad.ca
From there, the dimensions are transferred to metal – tubes are cut and carefully mitered to fit together perfectly, and aligned in a jig to make sure everything is straight.
The technique I use for most frames is jig tacking. If a frame is entirely built in a jig, it can be hard to reach all corners of the frame, and the frame can also not be straight – the jig artificially holds the tubes in a certain position, but when the frame is removed from the jig the tubes ping into a different position. So I tack the joints – lightly fix them – in the jig, then transfer the frame to a rotating stand to finish all the joints.
This method means that no cold-setting (bending) of the frame is needed – the frame is built straight to start with, not bent into the correct alignment afterwards 😉
Finally, the frame has braze-ons and other extras added – and a final check in the jig to make sure alignment is spot on.
The frame is now finished off and ready to go for painting. My usual preference is for powder coating – it’s tough, there is a wide choice of colours, and it’s cheap. Stove enamelling or other fancier coatings are not a problem, though.
How to get started?
A custom frame is a conversation, really – we need to have a chat about what you want the bike to be able to do, what options would be right for you, and also important things like what colour it’s going to be. We can do this by phone, in person, or via email. I also have an order form for custom frames – it won’t do everything, but it gets the process started and gives you a price as well, importantly.
To get an idea of the range of projects I have undertaken, have a look at the images below. There’s also lots more about things I’ve made on my Facebook site. I also make Custom Stems, and do frame repairs and modifications.